Scottsdale's sweet 16th evokes strong memories for Tiger

Tue Jan 27, 2015 8:24pm EST
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona (Reuters) - Tiger Woods has not competed at the Waste Management Phoenix Open in 14 years but he is remembered most by the raucous crowds that gather here at the TPC Scottsdale for his electrifying debut four years earlier.

In January 1997, Woods was just three months from clinching his first major title in record-breaking style at the Masters and he gave the fans at Scottsdale a hint of the magic to come with a stunning ace in the Phoenix Open third round.

Ten strokes off the lead after 36 holes, Woods arrived at the infamous par-three 16th and watched as his playing partner, fellow American Omar Uresti, hit his tee shot from 152 yards to just three feet behind the cup.

Unflinching, Woods responded in sensational fashion with a nine-iron, his ball landing on the green and bouncing twice before disappearing into the hole to trigger a deafening crescendo of noise from the massive galleries.

Woods celebrated the feat with several whipping round-house punches and the crowd responded by showering the 16th tee with cups and beer cans.

"Just smelling and hearing the beer hit behind me on the tee box ... to turn around and see all this beer flying was crazy," Woods told reporters at the TPC Scottsdale on Tuesday after playing nine holes in practice.

"The more eerie part was when we were playing 17 and 18, everybody (the fans) didn't really care. They were walking in, because they had seen what they wanted to see and 16 was empty.

"So we looked back on 16. You see all these beer cups everywhere on the tee box."   Continued...

Jan 27, 2015; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; Tiger Woods smiles during a practice round at TPC Scottsdale. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports